29 June – 16 July 2017

Last and First Men

A film and live score by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Film narrated by Tilda Swinton
Cinematography by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Soundtrack performed live by the BBC Philharmonic
Conducted by Daníel Bjarnason

World premiere

MIF17 is thrilled to present the world premiere of Last and First Men, an extraordinary new multimedia work by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (Arrival, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049). Last and First Men combines music, film and Tilda Swinton’s elegiac narration into a poetic meditation on memory, loss and the idea of Utopia. For this world exclusive, the BBC Philharmonic will be performing Jóhannsson’s score live with the film at The Bridgewater Hall.

Based on the cult novel by British science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men blurs the boundary between fiction and documentary. The work sets images of a futuristic yet decaying monumental landscape, beautifully filmed in 16mm black and white in the former Yugoslav republics, against Swinton’s narration and Jóhannsson’s mesmerising orchestral soundtrack. The result is a breathtaking requiem for the final human species in civilisation, and you can see and hear it first at MIF17.


Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the Barbican Centre and Sydney Opera House for Vivid LIVE. Produced by Manchester International Festival and the BBC Philharmonic.

Photo: Jóhann Jóhannsson in Berlin, Germany, January 2017
© Donald Christie